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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 29, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

    Soldiers of Destiny Fight Rearguard Action

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Tomorrow will tell a tale when we get the opinion poll rankings for the European candidates in  The Irish Times. But Fianna Fáil must have been downhearted by their showing in today’s overall party standings (click here).

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    Don’t do it Enda: your ship is coming in (Photograph by Frank Miller)

     The 20% rating, though one point down, is within the margin of error and therefore not very significant in itself. But after Brian Cowen’s recent bout of electioneering, the Soldiers of the Rearguard might have expected to go up maybe 3%.

     I covered an election rally he addressed in Loughrea last night. He must have got wind of the party ranking because he looked “less than gruntled” as the late P.G. Wodehouse would say. His personal rating is up but that’s not as significant.

    The Taoiseach made quite a tub-thumping speech to the faithful that had them on their feet cheering at the end. It was like old times. East Galway is heartland country for Fianna Fáil and you could see the faces of the “Hillside Men” of old in the visages before you.

    Cowen’s approach in attacking the Opposition for allegedly playing politics with the economy was fairly new ground for him, from a public platform – as distinct from what he has been saying in the Dáil.

    It may be too late. From his own point of view he should have been raising reasonable-sounding questions about FG and Labour before now. After all the State is in the throes of a massive economic crisis, unprecedented since the 1930s.

    Having stayed overnight, this morning I drove to Galway to cover Enda Kenny’s walkabout in the city. It was all sunshine and smiles: Kenny is riding high at the moment. Cowen has endured some sporadic booing in the West, according to reports.

    Fianna Fáil should not be dismissed until the results are in. My impression is that the party is trying to salvage its core-vote in these elections. Anything below 20% is meltdown. If they can hold that figure and keep at least three of their European seats, then a crisis has been averted. As for the local elections, these are nearly always used by voters to give the Government a bit of a kicking but, in the recent past, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern have both survived that mid-term drubbing and gone on to win the next “General”.

    This is a dramatic and fateful time in the history of Irish politics and of our wee State. Watch the maternity ward for Terrible Beauties.


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